Association of Body Mass Index and Motor Vehicle Crash Injury Among 4- to 8-year-olds

Principal Investigator:  Mark R. Zonfrillo, MD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia


Below is an executive summary of this project. Please note that this summary describes results and interpretation that may not be final. Final interpretation of results will be in the peer-reviewed literature.



This study aimed to determine the association between weight percentile and the risk of significant injury for children ages 3 to 8 involved in motor vehicle crashes (MVCs). Although it is well-known that the use of age-appropriate child restraint systems significantly reduces injury and death associated with MVCs, little is known about how the growing pediatric obesity epidemic in this country has affected MVC-related injury patterns.

This cross-sectional study sample was comprised of 9,327 3- to 8-year- olds involved in MVCs in 16 states with data collected via insurance claim records and an in-depth telephone survey. Parent-reported injuries with an Abbreviated Injury Scale score of 2+ indicated a clinically significant injury. Age- and sex-specific weight percentiles were calculated using pediatric norms.

According to the study findings, there was no association between weight percentiles and overall injury when adjusting for restraint type. However, higher weight percentiles were associated with a slightly higher rate of lower extremity injuries. This line of research may have long-term implications for vehicle and child restraint design for overweight children. Continued work in this area should focus on static and dynamic belt fit in overweight children and in child crash test dummies, also known as anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs).


IAB Mentors:
Rajiv Menon, Dorel; Pankaj Amesar, formerly with Britax, Hiromasa Tanji, Takata

About This Center

This Center is made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) which unites CHOP, University of Pennsylvania, and The Ohio State University researchers with R&D leaders in the automotive and insurance industries to translate research findings into tangible innovations in safety technology and public education programs.

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